How to Train a German Shepherd to Not Chase Cats

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Sherry’s neighbor Sarah has a beautiful Siamese cat. Sherry has a beautiful German Shepherd. Unfortunately, the two animals do not get on beautifully! Sherry’s Shepherd chases Sarah’s Siamese at every opportunity. Usually, it is not a huge problem, as Sherry keeps her dog in a fenced yard, but yesterday, the gate was left open, and the Shepherd got out, saw the cat and chased it into the street. Both animals narrowly missed being hit by cars, much to Sherry and Sarah's horror, as they watched on, helpless to stop a near disaster!  

Even if you keep your German Shepherd in an enclosed area and on a leash, he can get loose sometimes, or a cat can end up in your yard. Perhaps you want to introduce a cat to your home. Whatever the cat scenario, teaching your German Shepherd not to chase cats is important for the cats' safety, and your dog's. A dog keen on chasing a cat may not notice other dangers, like traffic, that could result in his injury as well.

Defining Tasks

German Shepherds are large, energetic, strong, intelligent, and often dominant and prey driven dogs. This means they are very likely to chase cats in their home, yard or neighborhood. Because of their size, a German Shepherd that is aggressive to cats can pose a serious danger to a cat. Even if your German Shepherd only wants to play, a 100-pound Shepherd that lands on a 10-pound cat can severely injure or even kill a cat unintentionally, not to mention the danger that both animals could encounter during the chase from traffic or by becoming separated from owners and homes. For these reasons, you are going to want to teach your German Shepherd not to chase cats. The appropriate response when your Shepherd encounters a cat in your home or neighborhood is to either ignore the cat or wait in a non-threatening and friendly position for the cat to approach him--that is, if the cat wants to. Cats can be rather uncooperative when your dog just wants to be friends!

Getting Started


To teach your German Shepherd not to chase cats, you will probably need to engage a cat. If you have a cat in your home, you can work with your cat. Otherwise, you may need to find someone with a cat that is willing to help out. Choosing a cat with a little bit of attitude, that is not afraid of large dogs, will help tremendously. A cat that does not run is hard to chase. Be sure, however, to protect both animals during training. You don't want your volunteer cat to be injured by an aggressive Shepherd, or even a playful one, and you don't want your Shepherd to end up with a badly scratched face from an irritated feline. Using barriers, leashes, and a hard sided carrier when working with the animals to provide protection is advised. Using treats or toys to distract and reinforce calm, non-chasing behavior during training will be required.

The Reinforce Ignore Method

Most Recommended
3 Votes
Step
1
Crate the cat
Make sure your “ volunteer cat” is protected inside a hard sided crate or carrier. If possible, find a volunteer cat that is not afraid of large dogs, and not liable to become agitated in the crate.
Step
2
Distract the dog
Introduce your German Shepherd to the cat in the crate. Keep your Shepherd distracted when he investigates the crate. Call him away from the crate, play with a toy, and provide treats when he comes to you. Practice tricks and obedience commands to give your Shepherd a job to do.
Step
3
Block the dog
If the dog tries to get at the cat in the crate, step between your dog and the crate, then step toward your Shepherd to create space.
Step
4
Reinforce ignore
When your German Shepherd focuses on you, and not the cat, resume giving attention, play and treats. Wait until your dog learns to ignore the presence of the cat in the carrier.
Step
5
Increase access
Put your German Shepherd on a leash and let the cat out of the carrier. Continue to insist your Shepherd focuses on you and not the cat. Play, practice commands, and treat your dog for ignoring the cat. Redirect as required.
Recommend training method?

The How to Be Friends Method

Effective
2 Votes
Step
1
Teach 'down-stay'
Teach your German Shepherd a strong down-stay command using positive reinforcement. Practice often and in a variety of environments until well established.
Step
2
Introduce cat
Use a brave “volunteer cat” or your own cat, in a hard sided carrier or behind a barrier, like a baby gate.
Step
3
Correct dog's behavior
Bring your German Shepherd, on a leash, over to the cat. When your German Shepherd sees the cat and lunges toward it, say “no” in a loud, firm voice and restrain with the leash by pulling to the side. Avoid pulling back on leash, which creates tension.
Step
4
Use 'down-stay'
Tell your Shepherd to go into a 'down-stay' position with the cat in the container or behind a barrier. If your dog resists, create space between your dog and the cat until your dog obeys the 'down-stay' command. Gradually bring your dog closer as long as he obeys 'down-stay' until he remains in 'down-stay' in close proximity to the cat in the crate. When your dog is performing down-stay and is calm, provide treats, praise, and affection.
Step
5
Release cat
Now let the cat out to approach your dog, if it chooses. Let the cat walk around and investigate your dog, continue to insist on the 'down-stay' position. Keep your dog on a leash or increase distance from the cat as necessary to achieve this. If the cat approaches your dog, let your dog sniff the cat and make friends, but ask your dog to remain lying down. If the cat ignores your dog, provide reinforcement in the form of praise and treats to your dog for remaining calm and staying down.
Recommend training method?

The Distraction Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Brush up on obedience
A well-trained dog is a well-behaved dog. Give your dog the chance to shine by enrolling him in positive reinforcement obedience classes where he can gain confidence and learn to listen.
Step
2
Know the commands
Sit, down, stay, and leave it are very important and useful commands for the safety of any dog. When training a dog to leave cats alone, having a good base where you know your dog will obey is essential.
Step
3
Game time
Along with training sessions comes playtime. Engage your German Shepherd in multiple games throughout the day. If you are short on time, after a few physical games provide mental stimulation. Give your dog an interactive toy that dispenses treats as a reward. Tire your dog out mentally and physically so that the cats are not so much an attraction.
Step
4
Incentive rewards
When your dog is in the proximity of the cat, reward him for staying calm. He'll soon learn that calmness gains him a food reward.
Step
5
Leave the scene
If your dog starts to show interest beyond simple curiosity, remove your dog from the room. After a minute of calming down time, bring him back into the room.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Laurie Haggart

Published: 02/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Galbi
German Shepherd
5 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Galbi
German Shepherd
5 Years

My dog always wants to attack my cat and various animals he sees as prey. He is well trained when we are with him but when he is alone with another animal it is dangerous.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jennifer, You can teach a dog to avoid cats outside using electric collar training done correctly. You can raise a dog to like cats while young. You can manage a dog's behavior through training while with the dog, but the only completely safe option for a dog that has prey drive and intends to kill a cat while you are away is to keep the animals safely confined, where one cannot get to the other one. Prey drive is an inborn natural instinct and things like noise and movement from another animal can trigger it. It is not something you can get rid of. Only something you manage and white gone you cannot safely manage it without confinement. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Mazzy
German Shepherd
15 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mazzy
German Shepherd
15 Months

Mazzy was adopted by me in March.. she was cat tested and was found to be fine... personally I dont think she had ever lived with a cat.. she showed prey drive toward my cat and my room mates chi... she is fine with the chi now.. so progress.. we do not allow free interaction as she plays very rough.. she had met other dogs and is fine with them... but she will be "in their face" until they warn her with a growl or snap and then she backs off or shows submissive behavior..she is not allow around the cat unless she is on a leash.. she trys to chase and gets really hyped up when the cat is around.. I am too afraid to let her off leash.. I really do think she is playing.. but I have seen her around dogs she wants to play with .. and she is really really overbearing... she does not seem to get that they do not want to play as rough as her until they snap at her... she is really a very sweet dog.. loves people, children, basically everything. ( she is not aloof) when I take her hiking. she spends a huge amount of time trying to chase bugs and and looks for chip monks..everywhere.. so she definitely has a prey drive.. My daughters cattle dog mix has a prey drive too.. but has peacefully accepted my daughters cat.. the are now the best of friends.. do you think there is hope?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Angie, I would have to evaluate Mazzy's prey drive to give you a better answer. It sounds like it might be possible to get to the point where Mazzie and your cat could be in the same room while you are present. I would probably always separate them while you are gone though. To get to the point where they could possibly be together you would need to get Mazzie used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle for safety reasons. The muzzle would be worn during interactions while Mazzie is on a loose leash, just in case she decides to Chase and pounce still, since she is still dangerous with her large size. The muzzle would take the threat of a deadly bite away though so that you could work on interactions more safely. Done right, the muzzle should be comfortable for her to wear and not traumatic. I would also recommend hiring a trainer who is used using "working level" electric collar, e-collar, training. Working level means tailoring the stimulation to your specific dog by testing out what the lowest level is that she will respond to. A good trainer should know how to do this. Avoid anyone who can't when it comes to e-collar's. You want to find a trainer that is used to using high quality electric collars on low levels of stimulation combined with obedience and positive reinforcement to modify behavior. Essentially someone who can teach her what not to do and also what to do by combining the e-collar corrections with communication and rewards. You would teach Mazzie to "leave it" and "out" commands and use the e-collar to enforce your commands to help Mazzie calm down and snap out of her cat fixation. Doing this, you can build a calmer response in her and then reward her calm, correct behavior to teach her to act that way instead of overly intense around the cat. All of this should be done very calmly, not with too much excitement because she will feed off of your own emotions. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that she can overcome her cat fixation. If her response to the cat is to chase and play with it, then this training should help a lot with that behavior. If she wants to kill and eat the cat, then she may never be safe around it. A good trainer should be able to help you evaluate her though and decide if she might be able to overcome it during the first couple of sessions. To get her used to wearing the soft silicone basket muzzle, show her the muzzle during her meal time and feed her a piece of kibble everytime she snifs it, let's you touch it to her, or let's you put it on her. Start with simply showing her the muzzle and as she gets comfortable with it, gradually touch and hold it against her face more and more over the next two or three weeks, until you can finally put it on her, feed her treats through the muzzle's holes, and have her wear it around for up to an hour and she will stay relaxed and calm about it being on her face. Go slow and keep the training really fun with treats like kibble, or meat if she needs the extra encouragement. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Angel
German Shepherd
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Angel
German Shepherd
5 Years

I have a five year old German Shepherd he is great he listens to me very well. He has always had a issue with the cats we have 3 cats today he grabbed the cat and was shaking it like a toy it was horrific. Idk how I should punish him for this? How I teach him this isn’t ok.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Krystal, It sounds like Angel is prey driven towards the cats. Unfortunately that is not as simple as punishing him. He needs to learn high distraction self-control around the cats, he also needs to receive a lot of positive reinforcement for choosing to leave the cats alone to motivate him to do something besides chase the cats. Finally, he should never be left alone with the cats because when you are not around if his issue really is prey driven, he may still chase the cats and harm them without your presence to enforce them. Look for a trainer who is very experienced with remote electric collars and can work on high level obedience around the cat's with the cats moving. A place command, a leave-it command, and an "Out" command, which means leave the area, should all be taught using positive reinforcement, then when Angel is very good at those commands, the e-collar can be used to practice those commands in the presence of the cats and enforce those commands even when you are around the corner, where you can see him but he cannot see you. To practice this without harming the cats, you will need to get Angel used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle, and to start with yourself close by and him on a leash, until he can do it with less and less help, but still a muzzle just in case. When he gets to the point where he can leave the cats alone part of the time when they move about, then reward him heavily for choosing to ignore them whenever you see him do it. This part is just as important as the high distraction e-collar training. Finally, practice the training when he can do it consistently without you present, when he cannot see you but you are watching him from somewhere hidden but close by where you can enforce the training. When you cannot supervise the animals together, then they must be confined apart. You cannot remove prey drive. You can only manage it. With all of this, you should see a lot of progress with the right trainer helping you and hard work, but honestly there is no guarantee that he will stop completely, and never have slip-ups since the cats are so close all the time. Most avoidance training that is taught around other animals like chickens and livestock give the dog the ability to avoid the animal when they choose to. This helps the dog self-regulate and make the right choice. Having a dog and cats that he wants to attack so close all the time keeps the dog under constant pressure and the dog may still fail at times. When you use e-collar training you want to use only a high quality e-collar that has at least forty-levels. A cheaply made collar can be dangerous. Garmin, Dogtra, SportDog, and E-collar Technologies are reputable brands. Do not simply strap a collar on a dog and start using it. You can make the problem worse when you do not know how to use it, fit it, and train with it. Hire a professional to help you and spend time learning about e-collar training and positive reinforcement. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Axle
German Shepherd
4 Years
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Question
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Axle
German Shepherd
4 Years

I have a German Shepherd who is nearly 4 years old. He is a big mama's boy and has had me to himself for most of his life. Recently we took on 2 kittens. Axle seems torn between jealousy and playful curiosity. He usually listens well to me when i use the "come" "sit" and "down-stay" commands. However, now he seems more focused on the kittens than he is on my commands. He will whine when we hold the kittens and don't allow him to come close. When we do allow supervised close encounters he playfully nudges with his nose but his play can turn to rough for the kittens. Only when the kittens run do i notice a prey drive kick in. I want Axle to understand the Kittens are not toys or prey. What is the best training method for this? I would like to avoid any training techniques that involve a stimulant collar as it has been my own experience a stimulant collar can cause a dog to show agression even when used properly. Thanks

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Rozilyn, First, set up fast paced, focused training session with Axle, with the kittens in the background. Keep him on a leash or have the kittens somewhere where he cannot get to them, but they are able to move around at least a little bit. If you have someone who can handle the kittens then you be the one to handle Axle and have the other person keep up with the kittens. Work on his obedience and reward focus on you heavily. Whenever he starts fixating on the kittens during training, tell him "Ah Ah", then get him moving and focused on you again by giving him something to do that takes all of his focus, like a faced paced "Heel" with lots of turns and speed changes. You want to accomplish two things by doing this. The first is to refresh his obedience around this new distraction, so that he will continue listening to you around the cats. The second is for the cats to become more boring and for him to learn to tune out their presence and movement, and to become more motivated to focus on you instead. Whenever he starts to get too fixated on the kittens in general, give him an "Out" command. Tell him "Out", point to where you want him to go, then get between him and the kittens and walk toward him, until he leaves the area. Once he is out of the area, continue to block his way, until he gives up on trying to get around you and go back. Once he has left the area and given up, sat down, or laid down, then you can return to the kittens. If he follows you back, which he likely will do at first, then quickly get in front of him again and firmly walk toward him until he is out of the area again. Picture yourself as a soccer goalie or a brick wall when you do this. Repeat walking toward him to make him leave the area as many times as you have to for him to learn not to come back in. When he has calmed back down and you want to bring him over again, then tell him "Okay", and let him come back in when he is calm. If he gets to rowdy, then make him leave again. His pass back in is his calmness. You can also teach Axle a "Place" command, and really work on enforcing that command. Screw an eye hook into the baseboard securely, attach a leash to the eye hook and Axle, and work on your "Place" command with the kittens moving around, once Axle can do the "Place" command for long periods of time with you dancing and running around, without the kittens there. When he stays on the place, then toss him treats from where you are to reward his tolerance and calmness. Get in front of him and interrupt his behavior if he starts barking, fixating, or trying to get off the place to get to the kittens. Learning to stay on the place with the kittens around will teach him how to control his own impulses. It will also give you safer opportunities to work on rewarding his correct response toward the kittens. Watch his body language when you practice this. At first, simply reward any progress and good effort on his part. As he improves, you want to gradually reward his body language and state of mind, to increase his calm behavior and tolerance around the kittens. Time will tell if he will learn to accept the kittens as family instead of prey. Some dogs that are not immediately bent on killing the other animal, can learn with guidance and time that the cats are part of the family and should not be harmed. Some dogs can never make that switch if not introduced while young. It sounds like Axle mostly just wants to play, so I strongly suggest trying to work toward progress, but do be careful and continue to always supervise at this stage. Do not trust him alone with the cats anytime soon, even if he is making progress. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Nala
German Shepherd
1 Month
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Nala
German Shepherd
1 Month

I just picked up this dog today and she won’t stop trying to chase my cats. She’s good with them when there calm but has soon as they run she tries to chase after them

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Josephina, First make sure she does not have a history of aggression that you are aware of - highly aroused dogs can redirect aggression to whoever is close-by so just be aware and get professional help if you see signs of trouble. Second, work on teaching her the Leave It and Out commands: Out command - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave it method for teaching Leave It command: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Next, check out the videos linked below for teaching a dog to leave a cat alone. You can incorporate your Out and Leave It commands when she needs to be reminded to leave them alone also. Video 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojIQmMuOwns Video 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y Finally, when she is doing well on leash, teach Place and work on her staying on place for an hour while the cat is able to move around. You can back tie her leash to something secure nearby as an added safety measure just in case she gets off place before you can stop her, but make sure the leash stays slack while she stays on the Place so that she is staying on Place because of your training and not just the pressure of the leash - which forces her to learn impulse control and tolerance. Reward focus on you instead of the cat, interrupt any fixating too - don't wait until she is full blown chasing, look for when she fixates on the cat and interrupt that too. Place command: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-place-command-the-good-dog-training-tips/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Maya
German Shepherd
3 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Maya
German Shepherd
3 Years

We just adopted a 3year old (estimated) German shepherd from the humane society 2 days ago, and they told us she ignored cats. She also was returned by a previous family after an adoption, citing allergies. We told them that we have 3 cats! Well have found out that she is very aggressive towards them!! Well the cat was free in our house she took after that cat full throttle! Luckily the cat found a hiding spot somewhere. I could not refocus the dogs attention while it was going on. Also we have had to take her out on a leash to go to bathroom since our yard is not fenced in. We have a large yard we forest and field surrounding it. And she latches onto anything that moves with her eyes and it seems like she would chase it until she killed it. But I’m not sure about that. And towards my parents (the only other people that have met her yet) she made an aggressive move to her outreached hand and gave them defensive barking. Can you please be honest and tell me If we should return her because of the cat problem or is she too aggressive towards people or if this can be corrected or not? Also, how long should we be giving her a chance? I would appreciate any advice, we are really struggling right now. She is very very sweet to us Just not the cats and we question her people skills!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lisa, If she has a heavy prey drive around the cats, then that likely cannot be changed. Prey drive is genetic and instinctual. It can be managed but not changed, and in close quarters with a number of cats management would be very difficult and dangerous. If she was not prey driven but simply playing or being pushy toward the cat, the potential outcome for that is much better. I would suggest hiring a trainer who is very familiar with prey drive to evaluate her response around the cats to give you a better idea. A very fixated stare, stiff/ridged body, crouching behavior, and obsessiveness tend to be more predatory. A happy, relaxed body, looser/goofy look toward the cats, and things like a play bow or barking during a chase are often more play. A pushy dominant attitude often falls somewhere in-between, with less silliness but not as much intensity and fixation. The dog often comes across as very bossy and controlling toward the cat. You may want to look up videos of dogs in predatory mode vs. play chase mode. If she is prey driven toward the cats, I would warn against it. As far as human aggression, having not witnessed the incident that is a more difficult call. Something is likely going on there - she might be nervous, defensive, possessive of you, perhaps they moved in an odd way or were carrying something scary. It could be a number of things. Her behavior in that situation could be isolated but it likely means something is going on - the severity of what that is would need more time and an in person evaluation to determine though. It could be something minor that can be addressed fairly easily or a larger issue. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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TJ
German Shepherd
5 Years
0 found helpful
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0 found helpful
TJ
German Shepherd
5 Years

We just moved into a new house with two cats. They have been in the house for about a month and now want to bring our 5 year old working line German Shepherd into the picture. He has never lived with cats and has a high prey drive. (Gets very excited and wants to chase, rabbits, squirrels etc) He is a very good dog and has never showed aggression toward any other dog or human. I adopted him when he was 3 and I’ve never had any issues nor was I ever warned of any aggression issues. The last couple of days we brought him to the new house while the cats were locked up in a bedroom so he could sniff around. He’s done this a few times. The last time one of the cats got out and it ran away when he saw it so he went nuts; chasing it around the house before I had to pin him down to the floor. He wouldn’t listen to me and just wanted to catch the cat. He didn’t bark but was whining and wagging his tail when I finally contained him and the cat was petrified a few feet away. I’ve seen different advice from different forums, but not sure what method to use with him. He’s never crated and has not been a problem as we’ve learned what he gets into and adjusted. He’s also been living with another dog for the last 6 months away from cats and socializes frequently with other dogs. We are hoping to make this work with them as we don’t want to give up the dog or cats. Any advice is much appreciated.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brian, With the level of prey drive you described I suggest hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues, uses both positive reinforcement and fair corrections, and is very familiar with using high quality e-collars. Check out the videos below on using e-collars to teach avoidance and impulse control to dogs who are prey driven around cats. Day 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgNbWCK9lFc Day 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kpf5Bn-MNko&t=14s Day 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xj3nMvvHhwQ Day 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxrGQ-AZylY Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Severe cat issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MLJV5PBh7Y More e-collar work with cats with the same dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8lkbX0dhT0 Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long, Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the kitten in the same room. You can also back tie pup while they are on place - connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. This keeps kitty safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop better impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control herself. Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Angie
German Shepherd
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Angie
German Shepherd
3 Months

One does this pup look like she is all Shepard? We just rescued her from a bad home, don't know a lot about her. I can't tell if she just wants to play with my cats or if she is attacking, we have only had her 2 days please tell me how to even tell id f she is playing or attcking and what to do.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Thanks for the question. It is hard to tell if Angie is mixed with German Shepherd and another breed but she is really cute! As for her interaction with the cats, what does her stance look like? Is she crouching as if the cats are prey, or laying with her front paws on the ground and her hind end in the air as if ready to play? Always make sure that your cats have a safe haven in which to escape from Angie's attention and certainly keep an eye on her for the next several weeks - don't leave her alone with the cats if you are unsure. Enroll her in obedience classes right away. She'll learn commands that will have her listening to you when necessary, making things much safer for her (commands like "come" and "stay"). The classes will socialize her, too and allow you two to form a loving bond that will have her respecting you as leader. Good luck!

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Keiko
German Shepherd
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Keiko
German Shepherd
6 Months

Keiko has always been very interested in cats, however she does not know how to behave around them. I have 3 indoor cats and we have to keep them in a certain room so they aren’t chased by Keiko. Any tips on how to get my dog to relax around them?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
833 Dog owners recommended

Hello Regina, Check out the videos linked below. Mild cat issue - teaching impulse control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWF2Ohik8iM Moderate cat issue - teaching impulse control using corrections and rewards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dPIC3Jtn0E Work on impulse control in general with pup, by teaching things that increase impulse control and calmness - such as a long, Place command around lots of distractions. Practicing the command until you get to the point where pup will stay on Place while you are working with the kitten in the same room. You can also back tie pup while they are on place - connecting a long leash attached to pup to something near the Place just in case pup were to try to get off Place before you could intervene. This keeps kitty safe while practicing and reinforces to pup that they can't get off the Place. The leash should be long enough that pup doesn't feel the leash while they are obediently staying on the Place because it has some slack in the leash. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Below are some other commands in general you can practice to help pup develop better impulse skill/self-control - impulse control takes practice for a dog to gain the ability to control herself. Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Max
German Shepherd
2 Years
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Question
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Max
German Shepherd
2 Years

My roommate has three cats and max continually goes after the cats

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
225 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. It sounds like you have your hands full! Your best bet is to desensitize him a little to the cats. Your dog needs to learn that the cats are just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach him to become less excited/reactive by the cats. If you are up for this, it is going to take about a month of consistent practice before you see results. You will want to start out by teaching him "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start by practicing with him on leash so you have more control. Any time he even looks at the cats, you give the command leave it. Once he breaks his attention away from the cats, you reward him with a treat. Ideally, you want him to be sitting and looking at you. But in the beginning stages, as long as he isn't focused on the cats, you can reward him. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the cats until he is no longer interested in the them. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The cats need to be left alone! Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Question
Teal'c
King Shepherd
12 Weeks
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Teal'c
King Shepherd
12 Weeks

We have a 5 year old siamese cat and brought home an 8 week old king shepherd malamute cross last month. So far things have gone much better than I expected. The cat seems to be ok with males and he has never been given any squeak toys (the recommendation of the breeder - don't teach a dog that if they bite something hard it will squeal). The cat is allowed in the bedroom and the bathroom both of which have access gates only she can get through. We have made sure that the puppy doesn't get to play with her toys and visa versa. It's a small house, 1 bedroom but HUGE yard and across from a park but not exactly much options for segregation in the house. 90% of the time the interation is that the dog sniffs the cats bum and the cat turns around and sniffs the dog and then she saunters off and he follows and then when she gets fed up with it she'll go somewhere he cannot. The odd time that he has been a little too forward or started to attempt to get onto the couch (he's not allowed on the couch anyways) and she was on the couch, then he's going to get a hiss. A small hand full of times she's not wanted to play, he's insisted and then she went on the offensive, did some fancy moves that looked like a pro fencer and then gave him a swat and he backed off. But sometimes when he's hyper and she comes trotting by, he'll chase, pounce in her general direction or bark at her. I don't want this to continue because now he's at 12 weeks and the pounce came a bit too close today. It was clear he was playing but based on the size of his parents, he's going to be pushing 150lbs at some point. I'm not sure if he will calm down after puppy stage or after being fixed. We have started training him already and he seems smarter than the average shepherd. At 12 weeks he knows sit, lay down, stay and heel. He is house broken almost immediately and seems to only pee on the floor on occation if he really wants something and we say "no" then he'll look at us and go and make sure we see him do this. He seems really insulted at being told no and sometimes barks back at us or snaps the air. When left alone with the cat with surveillance for a half hour the cat did not seem stressed, the puppy didn't care about the cat, instead the puppy chose to kick the ass of a giant plush Llama I (used) to keep in the livingroom because of that song. Anyways, ya. I'm just worried when he's big it might end up being a deadly game, I'm apprehensive to leave them alone.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
225 Dog owners recommended

Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize him to the cats. Your dog needs to learn that the cat is just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach him to become less excited by the cat. If you are up for this, it is going to take about a month of consistent practice before you see results. You will want to start out by teaching him "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start taking him around your cat while on leash. Any time he even looks at the cat, you give the command leave it. Once he breaks his attention away from the cat, you reward him with a treat. Ideally, you want to him to be sitting and looking at you. But in the beginning stages, as long as he isn't focused on the cat, you can reward him. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the cat until he is no longer interested in the cat. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The cats need to be left alone! Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Question
Levi
Shepherd
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Levi
Shepherd
2 Months

We brought our rescue (foster home!) puppy home a day after bringing home a surprise 10-week-old kitten (shelter). We aren’t sure exactly what our shepherd mix puppy is, though judging by his coloration he is likely some sort of a shepherd/lab or a shepherd/retriever.

We don’t really have a designated room for the kitten. Puppy has a crate. Both have “furniture” (dog bed; cat bed and house structure).

Everything I read says the obvious—try to keep the two separate and don’t allow chasing—but my kitten is either incredibly dense or doesn’t care to maintain a safe distance, because she keeps hopping down and remaining on the ground despite the puppy’s antics...which, as anyone could’ve guessed, includes chasing.

Now he’s little and has been very gentle with both our small children as well as the kitten, but I’m wondering what I can do at this point. We were not anticipating getting a kitten so soon!

I’ve also read that Siberian Huskies are one of the worst breeds for cat friendliness. This was news to me because I grew up with a Husky and a Siamese mix cat and they were best buddies. They knew each other since they were very young (weeks old).

I thought it’d be difficult at first but they’d acclimate and all would be well...largely based on my prior experience. But now I am second-guessing and concerned that my decision was a horrible one.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
225 Dog owners recommended

Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize him to the cat. Levi needs to learn that the cat is just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach him to become less reactive by the cat. If you are up for this, it is going to take about a month of consistent practice before you see results. You will want to start out by teaching him "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start taking him around the cats while on leash. Any time he even looks at a cat, you give the command leave it. Once he breaks his attention away from the cats, you reward him with a treat. Ideally, you want to him to be sitting and looking at you. But in the beginning stages, as long as he isn't focused on the cat, you can reward him. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the cats until he is no longer interested in the cats. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The cats need to be left alone! Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Question
Misha
German Shepherd
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Misha
German Shepherd
3 Months

We have 3 months old German Shepherd who cant pass the cats without chasing them. There are 5 adult cats. They always lived with dogs so are used to them.In the past we had doberman but he ignored the cats never chased. Currently we also have 6 year old cavoodle. Misha will play with Evie the cavoodle very rough until Evie will have enough and snap at her. The biggest issue is with the cats. We are training her basic obedience now. She knows her name, sit and slowly learning down.However when the cat is near nothing seems to work. She stays in her pen with the crate inside in the lounge room when usupervised.She is still very young so we would like to correct the problem before she grows big and strong.She has been smacked few times by the cat, one of them got her in the eye ,still keeps chasing them.Misha comes from working lines GSD and looks like she has very strong prey drive. Can you help us with advice pls. Anna

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, if you feel that Misha has a strong prey drive, you may need to have a trainer come to the home to work with her in her home environment with the cats present. This will give you the tools you need to reinforce the good behavior every day. So, I suggest an in-home trainer - because Misha is young, this means she will pick things up quickly and may only need a session or two. In the meantime, this guide has excellent tips: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-like-cats. All of the methods are good. Remember that obedience training is the foundation for having a dog that listens and understands, and in this situation, commands like "stay" will come in handy. Enroll Misha in puppy classes as soon as the vet says her vaccines are up to date (this will be good for dog socialization, too). Take a look here for now: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-dog-basic-obedience. Good luck and enjoy your animals!

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Question
KYAH
German Shepherd
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
KYAH
German Shepherd
3 Years

I have 2 1 year old cats and they don't get along with the dog. The dog wants to chase them

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
225 Dog owners recommended

Your best bet in this situation is to go with a method to desensitize her to the cats. She needs to learn that the cats are just a normal part of the household. So we need to teach her to become less reactive by the cats. If you are up for this, it is going to take about a month of consistent practice before you see results. You will want to start out by teaching her "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start taking her around the cats while on leash. Any time she even looks at a cat, you give the command leave it. Once she breaks her attention away from the cats, you reward her with a treat. Ideally, you want to her to be sitting and looking at you. But in the beginning stages, as long as she isn't focused on the cat, you can reward her. You will literally practice this over and over, while moving closer to the cats until she is no longer interested in the cats. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The cats need to be left alone! Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Training Success Stories

Success
Toby
German Shepherd
8 Years

Our boy has been great with cats! We got him as a pup so he has always been raised with cats and him and the cats have always been the best of friends. They play together and sleep together and we have other dogs in the house. We lost the two cats he grew up with and adopted a kitten and they became fast friends. So if you have cats don't be intimidated about getting a German Shepard because A) they are the best companion you can have and B) they are smart so if they see you loving on another family member they will love them just the same and be loyal to them as you are.

2 years, 5 months ago
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Sketch of smiling australian shepherd